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Best Color Scheme For Coding, Easiest On the Eyes?

barracg8 Three rules (763 comments)

This comes up on /. every so often, and I'm summarizing here the advice from a few people who (to me at least) sounded knowledgeable about the topic last time it came up.

  1. Use a strongly contrasting color scheme - this is obvious, black on white is easier to read than orange on red.
  2. Match the background color to the environment - staring at a bright monitor in a dark room is like staring straight at a light bulb - and the reverse can be true too (you get a halo around the monitor burning into your retina). Green on black is probably a brilliant color scheme if you do all your coding in a basement only lit by the blinkenlights of a router, but in a well lit office may not be as good for your eyes.
  3. Limit color edges. Okay, this is where I'm going to paraphrase other people really badly, but here goes. Your eye has separate RGB color cones, and effectively has to match a set of separate red, green, and blue images together. For some people, you can start to see optical effects when there is a strong contract change in different channels - your eye doesn't line up the images correctly, causing a blurry shadow around objects. This is not necessarily visually all the pronounced, but causes eye strain.

Based on this advice I've switched to blue on light beige (#0000C0 on #FFFFC0). It has a strong contrast in two channels, no change in the third, and suits my office (reasonably bright, but lit with non-natural light). So far, this is working well for me.

more than 6 years ago

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